NEW YORK Roger Goodell cracked down today on the player misconduct that has plagued his first seven months as NFL commissioner, suspending Tennessee s Adam Pacman Jones for the 2007 season and Cincinnati s Chris Henry for eight games.
It is a privilege to represent the NFL, not a right, Goodell said in a statement announcing the suspensions. These players and all members of our league have to make the right choices and decisions in their conduct on a consistent basis.
Jones off-field conduct has included 10 instances in which he was interviewed by police. The most recent took place during the NBA All-Star weekend in Las Vegas.
Police there recommended felony and misdemeanor charges against Jones after a fight and shooting at a strip club paralyzed one man.
His suspension could be longer or shorter depending on developments in that case, an official with knowledge of the details of the suspension said. He requested anonymity because the Las Vegas case is still pending.
The NFL suspension could be as short as 10 games, if Jones meets the conditions set by the NFL and is cleared in a pending case in Georgia, as well as the Las Vegas case, in which he has yet to be charged.
Henry was arrested four times in a 14-month span, resulting in two benchings by coach Marvin Lewis and a two-game league suspension. He was one of nine Bengals arrested in nine months.
Goodell handed down the suspensions under the NFL s existing conduct policy and also announced a new broader policy that will allow longer fines and suspensions for players and potential penalties against teams.
The Titans and Bengals said they supported the suspensions.
While we regret the circumstances that called for it, it s good for both Chris and the Bengals to have the matter resolved, Lewis said. Our team will move forward, and now it is up to Chris to acquire a more mature understanding of his responsibilities as a player for the Bengals and a representative of the NFL.
Jones attorney, Manny Arora, was in a meeting and did not immediately return a message left by the Associated Press.
Reached at her Georgia home, Jones mother, Deborah Jones, said: I just pray that this can be changed. This is not fair for him. It s just not fair.
Goodell, who replaced the retired Paul Tagliabue last September, has spent much of his first season answering questions about the arrests of players, including nine Bengals. Last December, he called Mike Brown, president of the Cincinnati team, and asked if he could do anything to help.
Goodell and Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, met with a group of players in February and again last week and agreed the league needed a stronger disciplinary policy.
It is important that the NFL be represented consistently by outstanding people as well as great football players, coaches and staff, Goodell said in announcing the new policy, which has the strong support of Upshaw and the union.
You would think it s necessary just because of the negative publicity the NFL is beginning to receive because of what s happening, said Henry s teammate, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, one of the players at the February meeting. It was going on for an extended period of time. Each day, each week, something was happening.
Jones, the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft, starred on the field but had nothing but trouble off it during two seasons with the Titans. He had four touchdowns last season, three on punt returns and one from one of four interceptions.
He could be reinstated before season s end if he adheres to conditions set by the NFL that include no further involvement with law enforcement; counseling, education and treatment under league and court-ordered programs; follows restrictions on his activities agreed to with the Titans; and a community-service program submitted to the league for review and approval.
We appreciate the Commissioner s thoughtful decision today and the discipline plan imposed on Adam Jones, Titans owner Bud Adams said. We respect this decision and are confident this is in the best interest of the league and the team. We are hopeful that it will achieve the goals of disciplining the player and eventually enabling him to return to the field of play. Our goals for Jones are consistent with the league s in that regard.
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